Ireland will deploy its Special Forces unit, the Army Rangers, to Mali to support U.N. operations within the country. This a positive move for Ireland, as it will deepen ties with Europe and the U.N., and allows the elite Irish units to be truly tested in what is regarded as the most dangerous U.N. mission in the world.

The Irish Army Rangers are a highly-trained unit that spent the majority of its time training alongside European partners. They train for such things as counter terrorism, counterinsurgency, and all the other good Special Forces stuff. Now the real question is: are they ready? I guess the same could be said before any unit deploys on operations. I’ve no doubt this elite Irish regiment take the mission seriously. The regiment will undergo an in-depth pre-deployment training package to allow operators to up-to-speed on the current situation in Mali and the tactics used by the likes of al-Qaeda and ISIS within the region.

Mali is a difficult place in which to have a first deployment. Geographically, the area is predominantly flat desert into some high, short, and sharp mountain regions, without much access to water and food or anything else for that matter. This place is what Mars would look and feel like.